AP News

New owner plans to close Fashion Bug


SUFFERN, N.Y. (AP) — Fashion Bug, a low-priced women's clothing chain, will soon join the retail graveyard.

Ascena Retail Group Inc. has completed its buyout of Charming Shoppes Inc., which owns the chain, and now plans to close the remaining several hundred Fashion Bug stores by early next year.

The company didn't say how many employees will be affected or how.

Ascena is generally trying to shed parts of Charming Shoppes that it doesn't want and said Friday that it may sell Figi's, which is profitable and growing, because it is not a clear fit with its other clothing brands.

The $890 million deal gave Ascena, based in Suffern, N.Y., access to the large-size women's clothing market with Lane Bryant and Catherines Plus Sizes stores. Ascena already owns Dressbarn and Maurices for women of all ages and the Justice chain, which caters to girls ages 7 to 14.

Charming Shoppes closed 124 Fashion Bug stores last year, and its website says there are now 600 Fashion Bug stores in 43 states.

With the deal for Charming Shoppes of Bensalem, Pa., which was announced in May, Ascena now runs about 3,800 stores.

Ascena financed the acquisition with available cash and $325 million in debt.

Shares of Charming Shoppes, now an Ascena subsidiary, stopped trading on the Nasdaq exchange and Chicago Stock Exchange at the close of business on Thursday.

Ascena's stock rose 27 cents to $19.55 in afternoon trading, approaching the high end of their 52-week range of $12 to $22.62 per share.


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